Indicted pro-life activist David Daleiden's legal team claims to have "clear evidence" that a Texas district attorney's office is "colluding" with Planned Parenthood.
Daleiden, the founder of the Center for Medical Progress, and his associate Sandra Merritt are facing felony indictments brought forth by a grand jury in Harris County, Texas, in January after the grand jury cleared a Houston abortion clinic of any criminal wrongdoing for its part in selling aborted baby body parts.
Although the grand jury convened last year with the purpose of investigating claims made in Daleiden's videos that the Planned Parenthood clinic was violating laws regulating compensation for fetal tissue, it was Daleiden and Merritt who were charged with falsifying drivers licenses in order to access Planned Parenthood, which is punishable by up to 20 years in prison. Daleiden was also charged with trying to illegally buy and sell human tissue, the same crime he was trying to expose Planned Parenthood of violating.
Daleiden's lawyers filed a motion to dismiss the charges Thursday, and stated that Daleiden's rights to due process had been violated because of "irregularities relating to acquisition of evidence and improper disclosure of secret grand jury matters."
Daleiden's lawyers argued that prosecutors violated the law by "systemically leaking information to unauthorized persons."
"The irregularities in the case were manifold," Thomas More Society lawyer Peter Breen said in a statement shared with The Christian Post. "The abuses occurring during and after the grand jury's proceedings were in gross violation of Mr. Daleiden's right to due process under the Texas constitution as well as his statutory rights."
During a press conference on the courthouse steps Thursday, an attorney working on Daleiden's case named Jared Woodfill told the media that it's "clear" the prosecutor involved in the case is "colluding" with Planned Parenthood and its attorneys.
"The DA's office has chosen to wage a war on the pro-life movement," Woodfill said. "We believe there is clear evidence of Planned Parenthood actually colluding with and pushing the district attorney's office to move forward with these indictments."
In the motion to quash the indictments, Daleiden's lawyers claim that Josh Schaffer, a Houston lawyer for Planned Parenthood, was in communication with prosecutors in charge of investigating Planned Parenthood throughout the investigation.
The court filing states that Schaffer admitted days after the indictments were announced that he "explicitly pushed prosecutors" to charge Daleiden and Merritt.
"Mr. Schaffer stated that during the grand jury proceedings, he and prosecutors maintained a 'dialogue … about the details of the case, and kept that going throughout,'" the filing reads. "Schaffer further stated that prosecutors confided in him that the grand jury's focus had later 'shifted' to Daleiden, … that the grand jury never took an up-or-down vote on a bill for Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast, the entity whose crimes they were charged to investigate … and that prosecutors did not call a single witness from Planned Parenthood before the grand jury."
"However, throughout the investigation, prosecutors did not provide similar details about the grand jury proceedings to Daleiden's counsel, which they presumably and ethically would have, if Daleiden had also been a target of the grand jury's investigation during its original term," the filing continued.
Daleiden's attorneys also accused the prosecutors of colluding with another pro-abortion lawyer.
"To further demonstrate collusion with the pro-abortion lawyers, an attorney for the National Abortion Foundation, Derek Foran, announced to the world via The New York Times that he had insider information and 'learned about the indictments in Texas about a half hour before they were publicly announced,'" the filing explains. "It is well settled that no person may disclose the existence of an indictment as it is to be kept secret until the defendant is in custody or has been released on bond pending trial."
In response to the allegations that her office is "colluding" with Planned Parenthood to take down the pro-life activists, District Attorney Devon Anderson said in a statement Thursday that the "matters will be thoroughly reviewed by a judge and jury."
"I am confident that the actions of the DA's office in this case will withstand any scrutiny," Anderson said. "All the evidence uncovered in the course of this investigation was presented to the grand jury. I respect their decision on this difficult case."
Schaffer told The Houston Chronicle that his involvement with the district attorney's office was so that Planned Parenthood would be in full cooperation with its investigation. He further insisted that evidence in the case pointed to Daleiden and Merritt using false identification cards and Daleiden sending a proposed contract via email.
"We provided that information," Schaffer said. "Just because Deleiden and Merritt don't like how that looks now does not mean we did anything improper in cooperating."